Page Highlights

Get ready for the new National Minimum Wage! Find out what changes to expect from the 1st of April, 2024, and how it will impact you.

The UK government has made a significant announcement concerning the minimum wage, with an impending increase set to benefit millions of low-paid workers. From April 2024, the minimum wage, known officially as the National Living Wage, will rise to £11.44 per hour, a considerable step up from the current rate of £10.42. Notably, this increase will also extend to 21 and 22-year-olds for the first time, marking a meaningful change in wage policy.

Current and Projected Minimum Wage Rates

Current Rates (as of April 2023):

Age Group April 2023 (current rate)
23 and over £10.42
21 to 22 £10.18
18 to 20 £7.49
Under 18 £5.28
Apprentice £5.28

Rates from April 2024:

Age Group April 2024
21 and over £11.44
18 to 20 £8.60
Under 18 £6.40
Apprentice £6.40

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, in his forthcoming Autumn Statement, is expected to provide more details on this significant policy shift. This increase, first indicated during the Conservative Party conference, signifies a substantial rise of 9.8% for workers over 23, and an even more pronounced 12.4% increase for 21 and 22-year-olds.

A Historical Perspective on Minimum Wage Rates

The change in minimum wage policy is part of a broader trajectory over recent years, as illustrated by the following historical data:

Previous Rates (from April 2021):

Age Group April 2022 to March 2023 April 2021 to March 2022
23 and over £9.50 £8.91
21 to 22 £9.18 £8.36
18 to 20 £6.83 £6.56
Under 18 £4.81 £4.62
Apprentice £4.81 £4.30

Before April 2021:

Age Group April 2020 to March 2021 April 2019 to March 2020 April 2018 to March 2019 April 2017 to March 2018
25 and over £8.72 £8.21 £7.83 £7.50
21 to 24 £8.20 £7.70 £7.38 £7.05
18 to 20 £6.45 £6.15 £5.90 £5.60
Under 18 £4.55 £4.35 £4.20 £4.05
Apprentice £4.15 £3.90 £3.70 £3.50

This series of increases aligns with the government's commitment to addressing the challenges of low pay, especially in the context of rising living costs. The Low Pay Commission's recommendations, which have been fully endorsed by the Chancellor, are a testament to the government's approach to navigating through current economic and political challenges.

While the wage increase is a significant step towards enhancing the financial well-being of low-paid workers, it has not been without concerns from certain sectors. Industry voices, particularly in retail and hospitality, have raised apprehensions about the potential strain on business costs due to these increases. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, has called for a balanced approach, emphasizing the importance of government support in mitigating the impact on businesses through tax reductions and other financial measures. This nuanced approach highlights the complex interplay between wage policy and economic sustainability in the UK.

Potential Impacts on Small Businesses

The forthcoming rise in the minimum wage, whilst welcomed as a significant advancement for workers, simultaneously presents potential challenges for small businesses across the UK. These businesses, often operating with tighter margins and limited financial reserves, may encounter considerable financial strains as a result of the wage increase.

  1. Increased Operational Costs: Small businesses are likely to experience a rise in their payroll expenses. Labour is typically a significant cost for many of these businesses, and the increased minimum wage could result in a notable hike in overall operational costs. This could be particularly problematic for sectors like retail and hospitality, where profit margins are usually slender.

  2. Pricing Pressures: To counterbalance the higher wage bills, some small businesses might consider increasing the prices of their goods or services. However, this approach carries the risk of diminishing competitiveness, particularly if larger businesses are able to absorb the cost increases more effectively, or if consumers are resistant to price increases.

  3. Impact on Employment: There's a concern that the elevated wage costs could lead some small businesses to reduce their workforce, cut back on new hires, or decrease hours for existing staff. This could negate some of the intended benefits of the wage increase by resulting in fewer employment opportunities, especially for younger or less experienced workers.

  4. Strain on Cash Flow: For small businesses, especially those in their nascent stages or those recuperating from recent economic downturns, the increased wage bill could place a strain on cash flows. This might necessitate reductions in other areas, such as investment in business growth or enhancements.

  5. Competitive Disadvantage: Small businesses might find themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared to larger corporations with more resources and economies of scale. They might struggle to compete in terms of price, service, and quality if a significant portion of their budget is redirected towards meeting wage requirements.

  6. Potential Closure of Businesses: In extreme cases, the added financial burden could lead to some small businesses closing down, particularly those already dealing with other economic pressures or those unable to pass on the additional costs to consumers.

Whilst the government's decision to increase the minimum wage reflects a commitment to improving the living standards of workers, it is crucial for policymakers to consider the domino effects on the small business sector, a cornerstone of the UK economy. Measures such as tax relief, financial support, or a phased implementation could help mitigate the potential adverse impacts on these businesses. Such a balanced approach would ensure that the benefits of the wage increase are maximised whilst minimising potential drawbacks for the broader economy.

Ava Roberts is an events specialist, sharing her expertise in planning and managing large gatherings, from weddings to festivals.

You May Also Like
What’s the new National Minimum Wage from 1 April 2024?
What’s the new National Minimum Wage from 1 April 2024?
Recent Post
What’s the new National Minimum Wage from 1 April 2024?
Stay In Touch

Get instant prices in UK Now

Compare prices for in UK now